Venezuelan tycoon funds jailed Utah man’s defense

A Utah man’s hopes for being freed from a Venezuelan jail now lie with a wealthy shipping magnate closely linked to the country’s socialist government.

Just why Wilmer Ruperti is funding the defense of former Mormon missionary Joshua Holt is not clear. The Venezuelan businessman is not talking, and Holt’s parents say they are simply grateful for the help after 16 months of confinement for their son, who has been accused of stockpiling weapons in a bizarre case that has strained relations between Washington and Caracas.

The financial support for Holt’s legal defense against government prosecutors is even more remarkable because Ruperti is also underwriting the defense of President Nicolas Maduro’s two nephews in a separate, politically-charged U.S. narcotics trial.